Biblical Daniel Fast Tested

Researchers recently set out to replicate the “Daniel Fast,” the biblical nutrition trial outlined in Daniel 1:8-16.

In my Care2 post Poultry Paunch last week, I featured results from the EPIC study, one of the largest studies ever performed. The gold standard, however, is an interventional study where you put people on a certain diet and track what happens. It’s easy to get people to make little changes, but increasingly we’re seeing evidence that to see big changes in our health, we need to make big changes in our diet. Moderation kills: check out my videos Heart Attacks and Cholesterol: Dying Under Normal Circumstances and Trans Fat, Saturated Fat, and Cholesterol: Tolerable Upper Intake of Zero.

People who want to lower their risk can certainly tweak their diet, but those who want to eliminate their risk or reverse disease really have to take healthy eating seriously. How are public health professionals going to get folks to commit to a healthy diet? Maybe by telling them the bible told them so.

In Daniel, Chapter 1, verses 8-16, the prophet best known for his lion’s den rather than his budding role as nutritional scientist resolved not to defile himself with the king’s meat. When this was met with resistance, Daniel proposed a test: round up some test subjects, put them on a plant-based diet, and see how they do. And what do you know! They ended up looking healthier and better nourished, so Daniel got to stick to his veggies. As I note in my 2-min. video Tightening the Bible Belt, though the King James version uses the word “vegetables,” the original Hebrew version can translate into a broader definition. 2700 years later, researchers at the University of Memphis decided it was time to try to replicate the study. Click on the video above to find out the results.

Can the drop in biomarkers of inflammation they found in the study actually translate into an improvement in inflammatory disease progression though? See Dietary Treatment of Crohn’s Disease and Diet & Rheumatoid Arthritis. The decrease in inflammation is likely a combination of the anti-inflammatory effects of many plant foods (Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell) and the pro-inflammatory effects of animal foods (see the 3-video series ending with Dead Meat Bacteria Endotoxemia). The improvement in antioxidant capacity is also not unexpected given the different Antioxidant Power of Plant Foods Versus Animal Foods.

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my videos for free by clicking here and watch my full 2012 presentation Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death.

Image credit: dentist_jo / Flickr

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

we already know to eat our fruits and veggies.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

Why were scientist wasting time pulling things out of the bible to test? We all know the more fruits and vegs you eat, the healthier.

Heather M
Heather Marvin5 years ago

I have often thought about the diet in Daniel and it is also mentioned that they abstain from any of the Kings delicacies eg the sauces etc. The Word of God, the guide to better living so often made fun of by some but really full of truth and life.

Kenneth D.
Kenneth Davies5 years ago

there are more truths in the bible than most people would admit

Elisabeth T.
Elisabeth T5 years ago

Interesting article, thank you...

Teresa Wlosowicz
Teresa W5 years ago

thank you

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B5 years ago

Many plants e.g. monkshood, hemlock, yew are deadly poisonous, even if in "Genesis 1:29 And God went on to say: “Here I have given to you all vegetation bearing seed which is on the surface of the whole earth " Or are believers supposed to be somehow immune from the toxins?

elaine wasekanes
elaine wasekanes5 years ago

food for thought

Miranda Parkinson

start eating those veggies!

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Interesting idea.